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SAPFA World Rally Championship Qualifier Round Two

By Garth Calitz

A few months ago SAPFA hosted the first of two qualifying rounds at Stellenbosch Airfield, the second qualifier took place at Brits Airfield last week which resulted in the finalisation of the Protea team that will be contesting the World Rally Flying Championships in November which will be held at the picturesque Stellenbosch.

In the first qualifier, three teams managed to qualify for national colours leaving seven spots open for aspirant teams to fill at the Brits qualifier. South Africa, being the host nation, may enter up to ten teams in the World Championships.

Jonty Esser in his capacity as team coach has been working very hard with a group of hopefuls that have committed to all the work and sadly expense that is needed to reach international standards. They have been organising practice sessions almost every weekend and the results showed at Brits.

The eleven teams arrived at Brits on Wednesday for the first of two practice days, the competition started in all earnest on Friday morning with the first of three competition routes. Mary de Klerk, who had qualified in Stellenbosch, offered to take on the role of Competition Director she was assisted by Leon Bouttell, who had also earned his place in the national team at Stellenbosch. Mary and Leon were tasked with setting up the three competition routes, which is by no means a small task. Once the routes have been plotted the identification and turn point photos have to be taken as Google Earth images can not be used in international competition. With well over thirty images needed for each route, this alone is a massive task.

Each day’s routes were in increasing difficulty, including the plot became more challenging, with 5 minutes less time each day between papers time and take-off time. Day 1 took the teams out north of Brits airfield and returning via Rooikopjes dam, mostly flat which helps the timing somewhat, Day 2 was a clockwise route over the Magaliesburg mountains and south past the Hartebeespoort dam, with a difficult arc flight back over the ridge, Day 3 was an anti-clockwise route over Rustenburg before going south over the ridge with a good proportion of the flight down the centre of the Magalies valley.

The qualification criteria was to meet 30% of the total points available for each day (900) totalling 2700 for Protea Colours and 40% (1200) for Aero Club Colours. From these scores, a team for the WRFC 2021 was selected. After three tough days of competition, the highly anticipated team announcement was made.

Joining the three teams that already qualified, namely Adrian Pilling and Mary de Klerk, Tony and Pam Russell and Marco Nel and Leon Bouttell will be Jonty Esser and Sandi Goddard, Alewyn Burger and Steve van der Merwe, Hans Schwebel and Ron Stirk, Hendrik and Juandre Loots, Apie and Frederik Kotzee. Two teams managed to qualify with Aero Club Colours they are Tarryn and Iaan Myburgh and Rob Jonkers and Martin Meyer, they have the opportunity to convert their Aero Club colours into Protea colours if they make the 30% total points at the world championships.

Now that the team is selected it is time to step up a gear and get to training for the international event in November, Jonty Esser was selected by the team as team captain, which is a great choice as Jonty has the ability to motivate the team to reach new heights as he proved as team coach. Renier Moolman has been chosen as the Team Manager, bringing to the table his vast experience in international competitions.

Many thanks to Mary & Leon for organising a fantastic event, ably assisted by Officials Jacques Jacobs (Landing judge and placing the elusive ground markers), Nigel Musgrave (Safety Officer and Landing line judge), Scrutineers Phil & Moira Wakeley, Sean Cronin, Renier Moolman, Paper's timekeepers, Barbara Freibose, Ursula Schwebel, Anthea Cronin, and logger management Sheila Kaiser, it takes an extensive team to run an event like this.

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